We talk a lot here at Sprout Insights about growing your business through effective marketing. And an effective marketing strategy that should not be overlooked is good old fashioned advertising.

But remember, in today’s social media connected world, we’re not talking ads created by ‘mad men’ over 3 martini lunches, we’re talking advertising with a social media twist!

Advertising with a Social Media Twist

To make sure you’re on track and putting your hard-earned cash to good use, here are the Top Six Rules for Managing your Social Media Advertising:

Rule #1 – Ready your Product for Conversions

Too often, small companies leap into paid marketing campaigns without understanding the customer conversion process. That’s the process of converting a prospect into a lead and finally a lead into a customer. So the first thing you should do before advertising anything is pause… Now, consider your existing products, your websites, your Facebook Page, your contact details, your landing pages. Do they all work together to convert a prospect into a lead? A lead into a customer?

social media advertising platforms

You don’t want to be driving traffic, especially paid traffic, to a website that is simply turning people away. Be ruthless with yourself here. Avoiding the issue of conversions is a sure fire way to waste your advertising dollars.

*QUICK TIP* Create very clear calls to action. If people are given clear visual cues as to the action they should take at each step of the conversion process, they will likely move on to the next step in the process and eventually end up as your customer.

Rule #2 – Focus on Engagement

If there’s one thing to be learned from Facebook’s marketing and indeed their platform in general, it’s that people tend to take action when they are personally involved in the process.

For example, when we see messages that tell us we’ve been “tagged” or “invited” or ‘Liked’ on Facebook, we’re naturally persuaded by our own ego to open those messages and do what’s required to move to the ‘next step’.
facebook like

Similar cues can be employed very easily in your advertising copy. The ability for people to “Add your photos”, “Claim your Place” or “Customize your space” can be worked into almost any advertising model. It only takes a little creative re-wording, including words like “you” or “your” in your advertising copy to increase your engagement with your target audience.

A great example of this engagement came earlier this year when Toyota launched their Rock the Space promotion on MySpace. Bands and artists were able to customize the look and feel of their pages in order to enter a competition. This promotion, involving engagement with the target audience resulted in over 13,000 entries!

Rule #3 – Measurement Matters

The biggest brands in the world spend the most money on conventional advertising. They drop millions of dollars on television, print and offline advertising. But luckily for us as small business people, they often drop the ball when it comes to managing their social media presence.

social media measurement

This is one of the reasons why social media is just so effective for small businesses. Big companies find it difficult to really manage their return on investment (ROI). They need to consider management, administration, infrastructure and a host of other spending considerations that small business can (hopefully) avoid.

What we need to be mindful of as small business people is how we measure the most important metrics.

While a big player might see a real return in getting as many people as possible to see a 30 second TV commercial – if you’re a small business, it’s more likely that your conversions come through referrals.

So it might be much more effective to measure things like the number of times your content gets shared by people within their social networks. With the right social media monitoring tool this can be very easy to track.

Rule #4 – Be Positive and Manage Your Expectations

Social Media Marketing has the potential to deliver your content virally by leveraging the networks of your followers, and your followers’ followers! But remember, if you’re just starting out with social media, you’re not yet a trusted source of information.

Start building trust by being open and positive. Bright, happy and exciting messages are appealing and are much more likely to be shared. And as good content gets shared, people gradually come to trust the originator of the content.

It does take time, so don’t be disheartened! Every new piece of quality content you produce boosts your reputation even further. Often people give up at the doorstep of success. Push yourself and don’t give up. Instead, manage your expectations and give yourself TIME!

Rule #5 – Advertising is Still about CONVERSATIONS

Social Media ConversationsToo often, advertisers assume that their message is like driving down a one way street. Their messages travel in one direction – at the consumer.

But when we talk about social media advertising, the conversation is a two way street. We still send messages to the consumer but we expect to receive their messages, feedback and engagement in return.

While any given advertisement might well be individualized to a particular brand or target audience, it’s the broader discourse with your customer that is the hallmark of successful advertising in the age of Social Media.

Rule #6 – Know Your Audience

Advertising generally, is about creating new fans, delivering new leads and hence creating more buzz around a brand.

Take a deeper look at the people who are conversing with you. Not just their gender or location, but their industry and their social engagement with other brands. Cues from this analysis will allow you to better structure your future advertising offerings.

And don’t forget…

Always be honest with your audience. While advertising is natural persuasion, it doesn’t need to be deceptive. If you offer genuine products and services that have real-world value, your social media marketing should reflect this.